GREENCASTLE -The final game before sectional action in high school basketball is typically emotional and physical. That was the case Friday evening as North Montgomery (13-9) traveled to Greencastle (12-10) for a non-conference battle.

Both teams came into the contest with exact records, mirror images of one another. North Montgomery escaped with a hard earned 54-46 victory.

Heading into sectional week coach Joel Grindle commented on the physicality of the game. "That was called (officiated) exactly how the sectional is going to be called. I thought we did a great job of keeping our heads in the game, we played strong and fought through it, our kids kept their composure. We have to have the 'us against the world' attitude."

The first half the Chargers had trouble on the defensive end closing out on the 3-point shooters of the Tiger Cubs. Greencastle was able to fire at will and made 6-of-15 from long range in the half. The second quarter alone, the Tiger Cubs made 4-of-9, and the Chargers had trouble finding the bottom of the net in the quarter, being outscored 18-5, and found themselves trailing by 10, 28-18 at intermission.

Coach Grindle spoke to the halftime adjustments for the Chargers. "We talked about help-side defense, and they (Greencastle) used it against us. We shifted from that, and it was a different mindset for our guys."

In the third quarter, North Montgomery used those adjustments, and did not allow the Tiger Cubs easy looks, constantly having a hand in the face of the shooters. North Montgomery outscored Greencastle 21-7 in the period, and took a 39-35 lead into the final stanza.

The tough Charger defense continued in the final quarter, as Greencastle was only able to make 4 of 14 field goals. North Montgomery made enough free throws down the stretch, and sophomore Caleb Randolph drained two freebies in the final 20 seconds of the game to make it a two-possession game, 52-46. Senior Grant Gayler knocked down a pair for the final margin.

Gayler led all scorers with 21, Caleb Randolph finished with 14. However, the biggest story of the ballgame had to be the play of senior Owen Randolph.

"I thought that was Owen Randolph's best game in a Charger uniform," Grindle stated. "His effort and energy, he was vocally leading our team, and if he doesn't play like that tonight, we don't come out with a victory."

Greencastle only attempted one free throw on the evening, and was led in scoring by junior Ryan Coble's 19 points.

North Montgomery will now prepare for the first round of sectional 25 action against Crawfordsville, Tuesday night. Game time is slated at 7 p.m. at Frankfort.